SCORECARD
WHAT IF ...
The Road Not Taken
Lombardi's invincible Eagles? Gordie Howe of the Rangers? Jack Nicklaus, filler of prescriptions? These things almost came to pass, as we found in exploring sports' most intriguing might have beens
CONTRIBUTORS
LETTERS
AIR AND SPACE
SI Players: Life On and Off the Field
SI Players
Psych-up Songs
Two key defenders with very different tastes in inspirational tunes
Mail Bonding
It's a magical time of year--and not just because the playoffs are approaching. Even the Raiders send tidings of good cheer
Inside
Tough Break
The Eagles will miss TO, but they're still in better shape for their run at the Super Bowl than they were a year ago
Inside College Basketball
Vision Quest
Creighton's Tyler McKinney nearly lost the sight in his right eye. Now he's back hitting game-winning shots
Inside Baseball
Shuffling Aces
While the A's were dealing away two top pitchers, the Braves and the Yankees were busy stacking their decks
Starting Over
A look at the projected 2005 rotations for five of last season's playoff contenders (new starters in red)
Inside The NBA
Tangled Webb
The Kings have gotten off to a solid start, but the chemistry between their two stars remains a work in progress
Inside College Football
A Wing and a Prayer
Thanks to his perseverance and sterling right arm, junior QB Alex Smith of surprising Utah is SI's Player of the Year
Farewell
Even as new stars were born in 2004--welcome Michael Phelps, Ben Roethlisberger, Maria Sharapova, Smarty Jones--others went dark. Each of the athletes, coaches and innovators who died left a mark: some great, some small, all indelible
YEAR-END ISSUE 2004
The Pros the Pros Would Pay To See
In the ultimate peer review SI polled more than 600 players from the Big Three pro sports to find out which athletes they admire most. Some of their choices--and their choice comments--were unexpected
The Great American Sports Atlas
Hall of Fame Members
New York has produced the most greats in basketball and baseball, Texas is tops in pro football immortals, and, of course, Canada is hockey's cradle. Here's where the best of the best came from in the four major sports and a few others
200 Wins 300 HRs
Maybe it's something in the air, the water or the surroundings. Whatever the case, many of the winningest pitchers and top home run hitters in the major leagues since 1920 were born in close proximity to one another
Where Pros Come From
On numbers alone California has produced the most current pros in each of the three major sports. But on a per capita basis, states in the South have a heavier concentration of NBA and NFL talent, and baseball has an unlikely outpost
The NFL by Position
No region produces more players per capita at almost every position than the Deep South, but who would have thought that Hawaii would be a paradise for linemen?
Teams on The Move
Once upon a time there were the Philadelphia Athletics, Minneapolis Lakers, Baltimore Colts and Quebec Nordiques. Pro franchises have moved around so relentlessly, always in search of greener pastures, that it's easy to forget where they all began
What Fans Watch
The most watched sport on television continues to be pro football by a large margin, but NASCAR viewership is climbing steadily. The NBA has caught on out West, and baseball is inching back to its pre-1994 strike level
College Champs
California, with 25 Division I schools, rises above the rest in the alltime accumulation of collegiate laurels. Texas, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania have been big-time players; Mississippi and South Dakota are the only states whose schools haven't won an NCAA title
Olympic Athletes
Since 1896, the U.S. has sent more than 9,000 athletes to the Winter and Summer Games. As illustrated by this map, which breaks down where those competitors were born by county per capita, every state has made a measurable contribution
LIFE OF REILLY
Departments
Prose Bowl
Legends, scandals and one very cold swimmer: SI's best books of 2004
Touring Pros
Andy Roddick and the U.S. Davis Cup team used their downtime to rent a bus, drive around Middle America--and bring tennis to an unsuspecting public
Mystery Champ
A bust a year ago, Glen Johnson is now looking like the fighter of the year
Q+A Ken Burns
The 51-year-old filmmaker's latest work is Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson (PBS, Jan. 17--18)